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Church of Sweden Bishops’ pastoral letter on climate change

24 April 2015


From the Rt Revd Dr David Atkinson

Sir, - The Bishops of the Church in Sweden have issued a pastoral letter: theirs is about climate change. With scientific and theological persuasiveness, they call on the Church to tackle climate change with urgency, and they link this with positive affirmation of our responsibility in God's creation, and with the calling to live justly and sustainably.

They recognise that the climate crisis is "an existential and spiritual crisis"; rightly link alleviation of poverty with climate change; and, drawing on 2 Corinthians 8, call for a fair distribution of resources. They say that the management of the Church's assets - in shares, forests, and land - needs to reduce climate impact and accelerate the transition to a fossil-free economy.

The Church of England response seems more sluggish. Our General Synod a year ago debated these issues and set up a working party. We are eagerly waiting to see what they are doing. Our Ethical Investment Advisory Group started reviewing its policy on climate change nearly two years ago, and we are still waiting to see the revised policy.

The recent, very welcome shareholder resolution that was promoted by church investors, requiring BP to be more transparent in its relation to climate change, reportedly took three years to negotiate.

It seems that many people outside the C of E are treating climate change with urgency. The President of the World Bank called for the immediate scrapping of subsidies for fossil fuels. The United Nations is giving support to universities, other institutions, and even some Rockefeller Funds in their campaign for disinvestment from fossil-fuel extraction. The Governor of the Bank of England has warned investors about a possible "carbon bubble". How can we in the Church of England treat this issue more urgently?

David Atkinson

6 Bynes Road, Croydon CR2 0PR

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